A Right to Information (RTI) response by the Union Home Ministry has recently revealed that only 14% of the construction work for the bunkers along the Line of Control (LOC) and International Border (IB) has been completed so far.
In December 2017, Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had announced construction of 14,460 bunkers – 1,431 community bunkers and 13,029 individual bunkers along the LOC and IB in five districts of Jammu region. The Centre had also sanctioned funds worth Rs. 415.73 crore for this project.
On January 16, 2019, the government had announced that 90% of the work for this project is likely to be completed by the end of June. However, the RTI response has now revealed that a month ahead of this deadline, the work on the ground is nowhere near completion.
Of the proposed 14,460 bunkers, 7,298 bunkers were to be constructed along the LOC in the twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch, while about 7,162 underground bunkers were supposed to be constructed along the IB in Jammu, Kashmir and Samba.
In a reply to the RTI application filed by Jammu-based activist Rohit Chaudhary, the ministry had said, “The state government has intimated about the construction of 2,054 bunkers, including 670 in Jammu, 670 in Samba, 547 in Kathua, 107 in Rajouri and 60 in Poonch. It has furnished the claims to the tune of Rs 25.65 crore, out of which we have reimbursed Rs 15.39 crore, which is 60 per cent of the amount claimed under the Security Related Expenditure scheme.”
It further said, “In Poonch and Rajouri districts, 167 bunkers out of the total 7,298 have been built along the LoC so far. Similarly, 1,887 have been constructed in Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts.”
NewsClick had earlier reported about the misery of the border residents whose lives remain paralysed owing to the shelling across the border. Splintered walls, broken windows and injured animals as well as local residents is a common sight in these villages.
In its reply, the Union Home ministry also said, “In November last year, the J&K Government had approached the Union Home Ministry with an issue of the escalated cost for the construction of bunkers in these two districts and also about the reduction in the number of bunkers. The Union Home Ministry had permitted the state government to proceed with the construction of bunkers at these places at a higher rate subject to adherence to a transparent process of price discovery to be approved by the state government and limiting the total cost within the approved cost of Rs 415.73 crore.”
Activist Chaudhary questioned, “When statues can be made in a year, why not bunkers? BJP needs to also understand that the bunkers cannot be a permanent solution. And the bunkers which are built already are constructed with substandard material. It seems like it will take 10 more years for them to build the bunkers and till then, many more people would have been dead.”
Also read: Modi Government Has Failed to Protect Us, Say Jammu Border Residents